Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Fruitcake gets short cake - I mean shrift!

My later start (or morning to myself) today was ever so slightly mucked up by having to deal with some rather troublesome phone calls. Which I gave rather short shrift to. I don't feel especially guilty about this, as I am no longer paid to put up with infantile/unacceptable behaviour from members of SEC congregations. Also, when it is an attempt to manipulate and mess with my head/stable and safe environment, then it is a threat to my sobriety and will be dealt with ruthlessly.
Tonight I am doing an extra sleep over and then to morrow is a day off. Chrism Mass and concelebrated evening Mass. Then back to work. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Day thou gavest - aye, thanks a bunch!

I set off for work today with a light some heart and joyful spirit. I returned, having spent an extra hour at work, frozen like a wee blue cloot, courtesy of a trip to sunny Craigmillar-by-the-Sea via Cameron Toll and a 25 minute yomp in the freezing rain! An African colleague navigated. Why did the King's African Rifles have European officers? Because at least the dimmer sons of Empire could use a bloody map! Still, at least I could let off steam to a nice lesbian film buff!
So it was shower, sausage casserole, chocolate pudding and a meeting. Then home to Horlicks, the paper and a big bar of chocolate! And spirituality? I did a five point examen on the back seat of the 31 bus to debug my mind! God, comfort food and chocolate - you know it works!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Making it through the..

I survived fine yesterday. I had actually OD-ed on Ibuprofen (heartburn was the only effect) but, once things had calmed down a bit, I sorted the back with an ice pack. Today I got through work no bother with only 2 doses of painkillers all day. So much relaxation of nerves. Perhaps the swimming session helped, perhaps having to focus on A N Other and not "puir wee me" was the key.
Mattins was a blur and, to be frank, the readings whizzed by. I was there for and with God but that really was about it. Sometimes that is what my praying is. Being there, uttering the words and then sitting there in silence, simply handing some time and space over to the Great whosever/whatsover. Daily offering yes, spiritual high? That's my trouble really, I always want the "high". Actually, I am getting to appreciate the plain rather than the mountain top - you don't crash off it so steeply.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

My back's jiggered!

Now how did that happen? I have no idea. I was away for the day yesterday to Holy Island. It was a beautiful day, enjoyable company, walk round the Island, gambolling lambs - nothing terribly energetic, really. I did stretch and yawn at one point and that may have been what did it. Anyhow, I was in pain last night and it was worse today. I took a hefty dose of ibuprofen which then upset my stomach. So I'm in Spiky Mike's at Mass (Church in purple - not red? Unveiled crucifixes over the pulpit, on the High Altar and in procession???), my back hurts, I have heartburn and because there is a sermon as well as the Palm Gospel, procession and Sung Passion according to Matthew I need a wee as well! Suddenly a wee voice in my head suggests a drink would kill the pain. And it starts nagging. So the logic kicks in: go and get some ibuprofen gel to deal with the back and not annoy the stomach; Bisodol is at home, so stomach can be calmed. Go out after communion and have a pee. And receive in one kind in case you get a taste for the stuff and the urge becomes irresistible. The logic triumphed. What was it they said about alcohol - Powerful, patient and cunning? Yes it is and it snuck in an attack when my defences were lowish. But it got beat. Holy Week may be a bit of a minefield this year. I hope to survive.

Friday, 26 March 2010

That was the 24 hours that was.

My 1st day of duty (on at 2pm, sleepover, 7am-2pm shift) was fine. No major problems, no stress out (well, I went to a meeting before going to work!) and then home to soup, study group, Compline (Feast of the Annunciation) and Monty Python's "Not the Messiah" Oratorio at the Cameo for R & R. A lie in (to 8am) and then "Up Guards and at 'em!".
I am a bit tired and will be glad of my 2 days off. Next week, I get Maundy Thursday off (Chrism mass and concelebrating) and then am off from Easter Sunday to Wednesday! And there's a bleedin' train strike! The Unions are insane - just like 79 and the Blue Crew will get back in. Severely unprintable word precedes idiots!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Of merdre and martyrs!

"That which you do for the least of your brethren, ye do also for me" takes on a new significance when you deal with an incontinence pad for the 1st time on yer own! But in a good way: pure dead diaconal so it is. I have also managed a minor technological triumph in as much as I got the new printer to talk to the computer and print. Yay!
Today is the heavenly birthday of Oscar Romero Bishop and martyr. Psalm 3 was our morning psalm and it is powerful:
"Many are they that talk of me and say:"There is no help for him in his God"
But you, Lord, are about me as a shield: you are my glory and the lifter up of my head."
Yes, I know that very well, that feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness. And also the difficulty in believing that God gives a monkey's for me. But I also know that God as I experience and understand him/her/it/whatever DOES lift up my head. So laus deo and on we go!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The passing of a Giant.

My old school's most distinguished ex-pupil has just died. (We don't have an Old Boy's Association like Eton or even a Former Pupil's like Stewart's Melville - nor do we have a Survivors Support Network like a Junior Seminary - just an Escape Committee! Professor Sir James Black, Knight of the Realm, member of the Order of Merit, inventor of Targamet and Beta Blockers, Nobel prize winner and product of Beath High School passed away yesterday. Oddly enough I saw his Nobel medal a few weeks ago. he had donated them to the Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street and they were on display to encourage the young to high scientific endeavour.
Beath wasn't a bad school - actually it was pretty good: other ex-inmates include the late Lord Ewing of Kirkford (Harry Ewing MP), Ron Ferguson (minister, author and President of the Blue Brazil Supporters club - a honour far outweighing his leadership of the Iona Community!), Donald Finlay QC (had a lonely childhood - the only Tory in Cowdenbeath!), Ian Rankin (creator of Rebus, which exonerates him from the sad fate of coming from Cardenden!) and Jim Baxter. What a contribution we have made to Scottish life and culture! And it's 100 years old in August. Quite a joint really, given that it was and is a State Secondary!
Tomorrow night is my 1st overnight stay at the project and I am looking forward to it - I think. Just have to see how it goes.

Monday, 22 March 2010

A day in the life of...

Another day getting paid to go swimming - heck, I'll get fit as well as remunerated! it was fun and rewarding. Then back to barracks to cook a tasty supper of teriyaki salmon. Isn't it funny - my culinary hero was Keith Floyd, but I can only cook well when sober! This is the last night in for a wee bit as I have 2 lates back to back and the second feeds into a sleepover, so I shall be out of the house for 24 hours. I shall amuse myself tonight by putting the beginnings of a Low Sunday sermon together. C'est la vie!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A day in the Sun!

Well. It was a snooze in the sun yesterday - neither the Blue Brazil or the Sons were on good form. 80 minutes of dross, followed by 10 minutes of lively action. Dungbarton may not win promotion, but some of their guys were definitely overlooked for the Oscar's!
The highlight of the day preceded the match. A very good session with my sponsor reviewing my 1st step - at the end of which he gave me a special coin to mark 1 year sans hooch. It's inscribed with the motto: "To thine own self be true". Good idea. Bloody difficult in the Church though - people expect you to fit into a mould if you are a priest. Perhaps being clear of the expectations of parish life helps that. Today is Church in the morning, followed by a 2-10 shift. Hey ho!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Busy ole life!

Yesterday I heard the splendid comment "Now that I'm sober I can do as much in a morning as I used to in a whole day". Yes indeed! The day off was spent: am sorting diocesan library (found Charles Gore's copy of JB Lightfoot's Commentary on Galatians). Lunchtime AA meeting. Afternoon to Falkirk to the chiropracter (self care?) and the evening watching "Phillip Morris I love you" at the pictures - nearly got the hankie out at one point, but the twist had me gasping with stunned laughter. And Ewan McGregor is "gawjuss" as a blond with a Southern US accent!

Today has a bit of Franciscan waitering, a meeting with my sponsor and hopefully Cowden beating Dungbarton at Central Park! Yeehah!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Military Intelligence?

Just goes to show that not every General is a genius: Hey, at least the Senate committee chair told him he was wrong!

You can scarcely blame teh geys for that massacre: try blaming Orthodox, male, heterosexual Serb nationalists. And the Brits and Israelis have openly gay serving soldiers - neither are armies noted for their lack of guts or competence. Of course, the Yanks are now doing away with bayonet drill training - what happened to Clp Jones's motto: "They don't like it up 'em Captain Mainwearing!"? The Argylls used the bayonet in Iraq (cause the Yank helicopter gunships were all busy strafing sheep or something) and it has proved handy against the Taliban too. Actually, the Pakistani Army credits its recent success in South Waziristan to their slinging their modern counter insurgency manuals in the bucket and reverting to the Raj's 1930's tactical manual "Frontier Warfare"! Given that the Indian Army Staff in the 20's and 30's included Auchinleck (1st Brit General to beat Rommel), Slim (won Burma) and Montgomery, that might not be a total surprise. It's not like we lost Vietnam is it? We won Malaya. And Kenya. Just saying.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

St Patrick's Day - slightly delayed!

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

No, I'm not Irish (or even from Dumbarton or Barrow on Furness which both claim to be St Pat's birthplace) but I was confirmed on the Feast of St Patrick in 1985. I did very little about it this year (daily office, no Guinness!) except for luxuriating in a bath with nice essential oils! Well, I was swimming in the morning, so exercise wasn't really needed. I love the Trinitarian solidity of this hymn (Shine Jesus Shine just doesn't cut it in comparison).

This morning is an "at home" being on the back shift, so Scotch Broth is on the make. Marvellously, I have inherited Mum's soup making gene:-)! And then 2 1/2 days off!! Joy abounds!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothering Sunday.

Well, by the grace of God (and a meeting) I survived yesterday, enjoyed a trip back to Fife and spent Mother's Day with my Mother. Avoiding any Church service that might mention Mother's Day at all. You see, I may be a member of the Mother's Union (one of these days, I really need to revenge myself on my former Vicar in Ealing for that!) but I can't stand Mothering Sunday. I detest the feeling of being excluded by virtue of being male (not that it's all about me!), I always struggled with the need to mollify those women who found it upsetting because they had a) no children b) lost children or c) lost their own mother by dishing out flowers to them as well (thereby rendering the celebration of female parenting non existent and turning it into a "women who go to Church Sunday"). And to be frank, I really wore pink vestments to gently subvert the whole show and its heterosexual triumphalism - that being less hassle than abolishing it outright!

Had I been in Town, I'd have gone to an early service and/or the Quakers to avoid some ghastly liturgy for Mother's Day. Instead, I communed with my inner secularist and read the Sunday Herald, enjoying an article in which younger Feminists (a breed against which as student I had something of a vaguely terrified prejudice agin) expressed their distate for it as a phenomenon. I also chortled when I read that the reason the hateful Scottish Defence League had such a failure when they tried to organise a march in Edinburgh recently was because in England they had united all the Football thugs into it, but in Scotland they had been unable to overcome the Sectarian divide. Huns and Jambo casuals joined up, but the Celtic and Hibs neds had planned to ambush the SDL, operating on the principle of hating the Proddies more than the darkies!!!! Personally, I think Scotland's ingrained Calvinism explains our relative lack of racial prejudice to a degree. We are all sinners dependent on God's grace and colour does not affect that. And the Union Jack waving BNP-esque thugs of the English Dimwits League forgot that when they tried to unite the Scottish footie casuals, the Green Teams traditionally drew their support from an immigrant community who were discriminated against when they 1st arrived in Scotland - the Catholic Irish. Perhaps the EDL don't realise that "The Soldier's Song" isn't the Scottish national Anthem!

And so to bed!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Reserves depleting

By which I mean my emotional reserves. I've actually been quite chipper and trying to work my 12 step programme a bit better, but I seem to have hit a patch where I get distracted by others needs. Having to put in a bit extra at the house due to others family illnesses wasn't a snag on Wednesday - I thought "I'm OK, I'll go to a meeting on Friday". Come Friday, I ended up providing some emotional support for a friend who had a distressing phone call. Forget the meeting. I went with them for a drink in a pub (I had Appletise) and felt very uncomfy: noisy, others drinking and I knew a pint would help me relax and take the edge off things. I also knew it would probably bugger up the rest of my life, so stuck to the soft stuff. However, I feel really quite drained and edgy today, so I am off to a meeting to stiffen up the resolve etc. Because I'm meeting Ma who was told yesterday that a pal of hers with Parkinson's had just died. So more drain on MY reserves - I need a top up! And am going for it. I don't have to do this tout seul and it's OK to say "This sucks and I'm stressing".

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Furry bits!

The Practice Nurse has duly squirted a dose of nasties into my arm and the nice Polish lassie (I am now aged enough to be able describe younger persons of the female gender as such) at the hairdressers has clipped me neatly. My other morning activity was experimenting with me latest gadget - another sign of the aging process!

Yes, gentle reader, I have acknowledged my advancing years and bought a mechanical furry bits management system (or male personal grooming kit). Really it was stimulated by my mouser (it needed trimming, as did the side boards) and the fact that there are now bits of man fur sticking oot of places it never used to be (the lugs mainly). And it works nicely! The soup strainer now looks a bit more David Niven than Ned Flanders (and I'd like to thank my friends (NOT!) who said that was who I looked like - the guy in the Khyber disagrees, pointing out I am not yellow, nor do I have a bouffant hairstyle!).

Actually, I also found myself looking thoughtfully at a set of 2nd hand golf clubs in the Charity shoppe. Now THAT is middle aged! I suppose I really need to worry when I think about taking up bools!

Easing into it.

Having rejoined the working class, I'm slightly tired (but in a good way). Monday was a 2-10 shift but Tuesday an 8-4. Home, herbal tea, bed, up, coffee, work. Luckily today is a 2-10 so I have a morning to ease into! So an inoculation and a haircut seem to be my morning programme!

Yesterday was spent in part up Blackford Hill discovering the amazing views. I hadn't realised Edinburgh was built on as much of a grid pattern as it is. And there was visible sunshine on Kirkcaldy! I'm appreciating a lot of simple things more because in part I am working with individuals whose Condition means it's really the simple things they can appreciate. There's a lesson in there somewhere!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Le Week-End

I recall being much surprised that the French used the term "Le Weekend" when I was at School and learning my foreign language. I'm these days quite sure that the Academie Francais do not approve and sit in a darkened room muttering "Zut alors!" whenever they hear it.

Anyway, on Saturday I headed to Fife, saw Ma and went to watch the Cowdenbeath-East Fife derby game. We won 6-2 (should have been 6-1, but our defence went to sleep at one point) and I won the the Half Time draw which means Max (who is now with mum on a semi-permanent basis) can have the wee op the vet was recommending (lump on his tail needs removing) sooner rather than later. The evening involved a trip to the pictures to watch "Crazy Heart" (very good btw, Jeff Bridges may well get that darn Oscar tonight)- but had me trotting through 12 step patterns on auto-pilot) Sunday saw me enjoying preaching and celebrating at St Ninian's Comely Bank then meeting a friend for a tomato juice. So quite a normal week-end which was very nice indeed.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

To do or not to do.

After 7 days consecutive of work or training (which is fairly hard work in and of itself), I find I am off from 5pm Friday-2pm Monday. And there are potential demands on my "free" time. On Sunday I will do cover at St Ninian's Comely Bank. Partly helping out a friend, but it is remunerated. Then I have some social time! Today though, I felt a slight obligation to go to Diocesan Synod - or did until I thought: "I'm knackered, I don't think I have to (being as yet unclear as to whether I have a Commission or a Warrant - and I'm dashed if I see the point in turning up if you have no vote), I'm haven't seen mum for a couple of weeks AND it's a Cowden East Fife derby at Central Park!" So Synod can get on with it's own business this year while I have Saturday to myself. Holy Mother Church gets me tomorrow!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Over at Madpriest's blog, a poetic flowering has occured. Here are the verses that started it all off:


Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man who's not a creep,
One who's handsome, smart and strong.
One who loves to listen long,

One who thinks before he speaks,
One who'll call, not wait for weeks.
I pray he's rich and self-employed,
And when I spend, won't be annoyed.

Pull out my chair and hold my hand.
Massage my feet and help me stand..
Oh send a king to make me queen.
A man who loves to cook and clean.

I pray this man will love no other.
And relish visits with my mother.

So I replied:

A Reply to a Woman's Prayer

He does exist, he is about
of that my dear, pray have no doubt.
He doesn't drink huge pints of beer
but sadly, love, he's truly queer!

So nuptial options, please rule out,
but before you start to scream and shout,
remember this:
A Gay Best Friend for every Miss
is truly fun and utter bliss!

To shop, to lunch, to goss he loves.
Ditto Jimmy Choos and Hepburn's gloves.
When an ache assails your head,
you don't need to fend him off in bed!

A gay best friend's a splendid habit.
Just don't forget your Rampant Rabbit!

Carol Duffy's post is safe!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

They never taught us THIS at Coates Hall!

I'm back on a week of In service training, so there has been little of interest to report in Dougal world. Until today. Epilepsy training. It is a serious and fairly common illness. So it isn't really a matter for humour. But the training had a surreal moment. Part of the competency we have to have is the administration of Emergency or Rescue medication. Fine. Stop and think. If someone is having a full blown and prolonged seizure, you ain't gonna be able to give them a tablet. Nope, it's liquid meds here, which either involves squirting it into the mouth so it can be absorbed via the cheek flesh or what with beautiful clinical precision is described as "rectal administration". Yup, shoot the stuff up the old jacksie. Right, now how are you going to demonstrate this competency? Mercifully we were not asked to volunteer to be a practice dummy! We were given one instead!

I met Bill the Bahookie this afternoon. A latex set of buttocks with a life size orifice on which to practice the administration of liquid medication. Gloves and KY jelly were provided - and I got paid to do this!!!! I can only say that if I ever develop severe epilepsy (and I hope I never do) I get diazapam rather than paraldhyde - the tube is a heck of a lot smaller and it doesn't melt plastic!

And I said Mass at Spikey Mike's this morning before going to train! You really couldn't make it up!